It’s Not Okay: A Response to a Donald Trump Presidency

It’s Not Okay
A Response to a Donald Trump Presidency

I called my mom because I longed for the feeling of being a baby, a feeling of being held, a space to safely crumble and cry. And, like any sweet loving mami who raised me on fresh frijoles, beans and kindness she asked, “Are you okay?”

I said “no,” and wanted to tell her why. She interrupted me before I could elaborate or have any feelings.

She told me, “We need to pray mija. The virgencita, Jesucristo is there waiting for us to give this election up to them.”

“No, but mami, I am scared,” and, she continued, “I know, I know, that’s why our Lord wants you to go to him.”

I kept saying “I am scared. I am scared,” in my head. I wanted desperately for her to hear me, wanted her to just listen, like I wanted her to listen when I was scared twenty-three years ago, alone in my dorm, afraid because the student from Lubbock across the hall told me I was going to hell. But Mami stopped talking to me back then, after she found out I was gay.

I told her again, “Mami, I am scared of all the hate in the world right now,” and she interrupted, “Mijita, I am praying for our world, praying for the evil.” And, I remembered when I was told by praying people that I was evil for being gay, a disgrace, disgusting, committing mortal sin. Then I remembered that our soon to be vice president said those same words about me and all my LGBTQIA hermanas and hermanos, my brown, black and Muslim familia, my sisters, and my gente coming to the US for dreams of peace. Then I remembered my Mami is not the mean man I am afraid of.

She loves me, but somewhere in all the battles she had to fight, between being punished for speaking Spanish, degraded by her white teachers, segregation, Vietnam, her ovarian cancer, the Cold War, sexual assault from a superior, her lesbian daughter and the things she has packed away behind survival, somewhere she became so scared she stopped fighting. I reminded myself that my Mami has come a long way, gone through a lot, loves my wife, my daughters and me very much, so I tried again. “I am scared, Mami,” I said, and “and our babies are scared too. They are afraid, too.” I assumed my Mami would understand because she held my brother to her chest and promised to leave the country if he was called away to the Vietnam War. She was terrified and felt the way I feel today, so I tried again. “Mami, I am scared of Donald Trump and the people he is feuling,” I said, but something wouldn’t let her hear me, something wouldn’t let the fear in and she interrupted again before I could continue. “Mijita, we have to pray.”

I just wanted her to say she was going to come over, maybe make me caldo or sit with me, but she didn’t. I wanted her to say she was ready to fight for me, but she didn’t. The mocos broke up into my nose and I wanted to tell her how scared I was yesterday but she kept praying and telling me it would be okay. And, under my breath on the other side of the phone I said, “But I am scared Mami. I was scared to hold Erika’s hand at the grocery store, yesterday, Mami, just getting out of the car.” And, I wanted to tell her that I let go of my wife’s hand in the parking lot when a huge pickup truck pulled up in front of us because I imagined someone jumping out to beat us, like I had seen done before years ago to a transgender woman. I wanted to cry and release my fears, but she didn’t let me speak. She told me again, “Mija, it will be okay,” and started to say goodbye. “Tell Erika and the girls I love them, mija,” and I wanted her to stay on the phone so I could tell her that I was even afraid to go to the bathroom alone at the grocery store, afraid someone would tell me I couldn’t go to the women’s bathroom, but she didn’t hear me. She told me it would be okay.

Then, I hopped on another call with a family member and said I was scared, hoping to be heard, hoping for a soft place to land, but again it didn’t happen.“I know, I know it’s hard Anel, but we are going to be okay.”

It was not okay when the old white man told my precious, sacred wife, “Let me take you both home to feel what a real dick feels like.”

It was not okay when the male coach told me at a pep rally he wanted to “rip the principal’s red leather pants off and fuck her in the custodial closet.”

It was not okay when my young, gay student was tormented by groups of boys near the library over and over until one day he never returned to school. Only to hear he died in the bathroom of causes we were never told, but a rope burn around his neck.

It was not okay the day we realized there needed to be a suicide hotline just for LGBTQIA kids.

It was not okay when my wife’s ex-husband found it easy and fail-proof to use our racist and homophobic laws to threaten my wife with the custody of their children and deportation.

It was not okay when an adult man dragged my thirteen-year-old body to the beach, jammed his hand into my pants and my face into his. And it wasn’t okay the three other times this same thing happened, at 6, 11 and 16.

It was not okay when our friend’s daughter’s breasts are being poked at in hallways and a football player is telling her she has to send naked pics of her body or else he will spread rumors about her.

It was not okay when our daughter’s friend was raped in her dorm room by a swimmer at a Texas University and he got a slap on the hand. She dropped out of school because she was pregnant.

It was not okay when I held my father’s gun to my head because I believed my body was fat, dirty and ugly, and my soul was not worthy of living.

And

It is not okay that when you started reading this a woman was sexually assaulted in america and since then, two more, and before you are done at least one more will be raped, grabbed, penetrated, beat against their will or hit.

It is not okay, so do not tell me it is.
I am scared.
I have a right to be.
And, I am not going to just pray.
I’m going to yell right back at the man who comes at me next time.
I am going to gather people together so we can walk hand in hand.
I am going to give my gente a safe place to land in our home.
I am going to write our truths until someone listens.
I am going to walk with you to your car so no one can lay a hand on you.
I am going to be a phone call away when you want to tell me how scared you are.

When the moon is up, our mijas are sleep and sound,
and all the hours of work my body can take for that day are out,
I’ll pray.

This is not okay.
If you don’t believe me, read this again.

#dumptrump #antitrump #nevertrump #imwithher #lgbtcontratrump #LesbianAgainstTrump #LatinaContraTrump #lovetrumpshate #trumpprotest

WATCH: Lesbiana Artist Anel Flores Reflects on Orlando Shootings

Lesbiana Artist Anel Flores Reflects on Orlando Shooting from Rivard Report on Vimeo.

Video by Kathryn Boyd-Batstone
http://www.kathrynboydbatstone.com/

Latino Artists Tell ‘Nuestra Historia

Latino Artists Tell ‘Nuestra Historia’

Eight different stories were told to an intimate group at the Central Library Thursday night, but a collective story of struggle for space, freedom through art, and perseverance was told. In the section of the library that will soon be known as the Latino Studies Collection Space, dozens listened to local and national Latino artists, scholars, activists, educators, […]

Photo Credit: by Kathryn Boyd-Batstone

A Tejana Lesbiana Daydream, for My Mami on Dia de las Madres

When I left home at 17, I searched tirelessly to find a home that combined my Tejana upbringing of musica, asadas, cervezas and dancing with my lesbian world which at the time looked more like white girls in khaki cargos singing love songs to Melissa Etheridge. I longed to connect the warmth of the familia I once celebrated with to my lesbian world, because they were absent during this time and not supportive of my coming out. I drank myself to numbness on most nights, and searched and searched for the feeling of family everywhere.  Finally, in the corner of a bar, one day a week, on San Antonio’s gay drag, within the walls of Petticoat Junction on Main St, I found a space where I could be tejana and lesbiana for the first time. It was 1995-2000 and it was in this bar that I daydreamed I would one day dance with my mother there, tenderly, the way we danced to cumbias and romancias in the kitchen. I learned how to love from her. I learned how to bidi bidi bom bom and cumbia in her arms. But, I knew during that time it would be years and years until we danced together again. “The Next Song” is my daydream of meeting my first love, my mami, in the first place where I felt complete, in the Tejana lesbian bar on Main St one night a week.

This piece is dedicated to my Mami who has worked very hard to make sure I have everything I need and who has taught me to stand up for my convictions- even if we don’t agree on everything.  And to all mujeres who lose thier mami when they come out, she will come around one day.


The Next Song

Ruby probably served me one too many drinks because she knew my garage apartment was one block south of here, and I’d more than likely stick with them after closing for our usual 3:00 am Mr. Taco feast.

I barely saw you across the room, but in the corner of that dimly lit bar the jeweled details of your tejana shirt reflected off the three-colored light fixture pointing towards the dance floor. What were you doing there? Wasn’t it too late for you to be away from home? The smell of forty-year-old throw up should have been enough to keep you out of this old bar.

It always felt like I was standing under the exit sign at one of those weddings in a Catholic school gym, like the one your prima’s daughter threw just recently in San Benito. It smelled the same there, like sweat, old cigarettes and beer mixed together. The music was the same, and the color and density of the fog machine smoke in the air was the same. Except here, women were dressed like the viejos from the wedding, in black tejano hats and tight jeans. And instead of giving me asco, these Tejanos put the aaaaaaa in Tejana when I stared at their tipping hips moving back and forth across the dance floor with another Tejana in their hands.

Tejana dyke night at the bar brought me the closest to feeling like all of me: lesbian, Chicana and Tejana. But after each long night, I always drove back to my apartment alone, with the same knot in my throat I had when I backed out of your driveway for the last time, leaving home three weeks after my seventeenth birthday. You found out from a phone call my lips kissed your friend’s daughter’s lips. You said I could spend the night over there to study. And, we were studying at first, but then we kissed and her mom walked in. After you hung up the phone the next morning, you looked through me like I wasn’t there. I got the hint and got myself out of there, out the backdoor, out of the driveway and to the bar.

In between drinks, I saw you out of bed and in my home, my bar. You weren’t wearing what I imagined you’d be wearing. I was used to seeing you dressed in Sunday, church spring colors and flowy material. At the bar that night, you went beyond my expectations by not only joining me here but by also dressing the part in dark jeans, botas picudas and a pressed shirt. Do you remember when you used to take me to your friend’s baby showers and barbecues? I would dress in pastel colors and linen to please you. I guess you realized how important it was to return the favor. Thank you.

At the tejana bar it was hard to see the details of your shape because of the thick smoke soaked air, but it was easy to hear your rumbling heartbeat because it pumped at the same speed and volume as mine, through the jumbled wiry ritmo of the dj jams.

Pairs of girls, one small and round, the other tall and slim, in one another’s arms stepped on, passed you with one step, then another, brushed briskly against the floor, a third step, and again, over and over. Neither you nor I tired of watching the women dance around the floor in a large circle, following the shuffle of one another’s feet. While I wished the women were you and me dancing in the kitchen like we used to, you were mesmerized by the newness of two mujeres. I understood your curiosity.

I raised my short glass of undressed Tres Hermanas tequila, took a slow sip and choked at the sight of a girly-girl tejana ass crookedly swing by, all alone. If you wouldn’t have been there I’d chase after her myself, but that night you were the one I had my eye on.

I would’ve enjoyed you much better closer on the stool beside me. Instead, I talked to you telepathically, tapping my leg to the beat, but you didn’t get the hint and come over. With your face behind the smoke I tried to pick out your heartbeat between Selena’s Techno Cumbia,” audio-mixed chords, soft steps and smooth glides of the dancers parading in front of me, but I picked up my own heartbeat instead, beating faster than the song and the steps, faster than both rhythms combined. The overlapping of dancers covered you. My right palm was sweating and my left one could hardly hold my drink. I tried to see you, squinted my eyes, bobbed my head around between the small space of their legs or under their arm during a turn, but only was able to make out the milky white of your cheekbone, high and thin. Even when I thought I could see you, you were not there and it became hard to believe the smoke was the only thing blocking my view to you. Did you have any idea I was there? I saw you fan the landscape with your eyes, searching. That bar was the last place I wanted to be seen by you, Mami. I came to the Petticoat Junction on Main. St. to combine my worlds, my worlds of Tejana and Lesbiana. I imagined what I would say if I could go up to you, “It’s just like Ninfa’s wedding last summer! Remember, you watched me closely to make sure I didn’t reveal any hints of my girlfriend and gay friends back home? Why were you in the corner of this bar trying to combine the two worlds, like I do?

The dance floor spread under us. “Do you want to dance?” You gave me your hand. The other toddling dancers circled around us, amazed at our kitchen-mastered moves. My chest pressed forward, the way Papi normally held you, and my cheek leaned against yours. Your dark red, wide smile chilled and warmed me. Mouths hung open around us. The sharp women with their hair cut short on the sides and long in the back let go of their women, and held onto their gold and silver buckles hoping you’d please them next with your hand. Your face of many years and legs that have walked and kicked up many miles stirred everyone, including me. The simplicity of your stance, the not so simple lines of your open child bearing hips, your pancita rolled into a perfect bolillo, and the grace of your feet across the dance floor, built your austere body into a bronze statue. I pressed my hand firmly against your back and kept dancing until Ruby yelled, “last call.”


An excerpt from my book, Empanada: a Lesbiana Story en Probaditas.  

To purchase the book, go to: Korima Press


Publisher Credit:

Flores, Anel. “The Last Song.” Empanada. San Francisco / Austin: Korima & Evelyn Street Press, 2012.

Watch Hardcore Tejanas at UCLA 2016

Incredible reading with some hardcore Tejanas!

(*Find me at 39 minutes!)

Published on Apr 22, 2016

March 31, 2016

The CSRC was pleased to welcome Inés Hernández-Avila and Norma Elia Cantú, the editors of “Entre Guadalupe y Malinche: Tejanas in Literature and Art” (University of Texas Press, 2016) for selected readings by contributing poets Alicia Gaspar de Alba, Inés Hernández-Avila, Norma Elia Cantú, Anel I. Flores, Emmy Pérez, Maria Herrera Sobek, and Juanita Luna-Lawhn.

This event was co-sponsored by the UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center, LGBT Studies Program, and the UCLA César E. Chávez Department of Chicana/o Studies.

To learn more about the UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center, please visit: http://www.chicano.ucla.edu

for National Poetry Month 2016

Nightmare

a response to the US saying, count sheep when you can’t sleep

By Anel Flores

it’s late

I don’t know

where you got the idea

you were invited to this party

but

you tangled us up

in your shadowy breath

the smell of hot beer

you talked into my ear

your red eyes

your smile sly

as you look out to the side

like you looked at her

when you took her home

drunker than you were

you said

to the table of butches

they didn’t laugh as deep as you

they didn’t laugh at all

but you slapped her on the shoulder

expected us to cheer you on

the gall

come on dude

you said

who the fuck are you

you’re talking to the wrong man

I thought

my skin crawled

you laughed loud enough for everyone

she didn’t laugh at all

my chest fluffed

my neck got hot

I pushed down on my feet

to stand up

but

everything came back

the smell that came from his open pants

the sweat

the shadow my body kneeled in

the way my head screamed sin

when he told me to open up

“o vas a quedar aquí, en mexico conmigo.”

in the desert I’m in

my soul folded

then broke

accepted him

in my mouth

imagined my lips

thorned like mami’s rosas

and cut in him

imagined drinking a coca cola

next to a christmas tree

a woman in a business suit

smoking a thin

and a blond

mom

since I never had one

to begin

I thought

and thought

of nice things

of dreams

where there is water to drink

books to read

all I could do was believe

Until you slapped my back

and it all came back

in a different package

the smell

that nasty fucking smell

my throat gagging

my tongue growing into a knife

my feet on fire

my chest blowing up

soul unfolding

and I laughed in your face

and spit

this isn’t a tiny bit of what it feels like to be treated like shit

I said

now pick up your pants

before I cut off your fucking dick

your story makes us sick

we don’t give a shit

now tell me

where is this one

woman you tell of

from your drunken nights

we have a show for her delight

for some it may be fright

hold on tight

close your mouth

damn your breath

get down

I’m gonna turn out the light

goodnight

good

night

sleep tight

good night

 

 

Credit:

This City is a Poem. April 23, 2016. (http://sanantoniopoetics.tumblr.com/post/143282370909/nightmare)

¡Chicana! Power! A Firme Tejana-Califas Reading: AWP 2016 | Los Angeles, CA

 

Although I am doing the Tejana on the Loose Reading at UCLA Thursday, I will also be presenting at the AWP conference with a chingona group of Tejas-Califas writers on Friday ! I can’t wait! See you there!

F250. “¡Chicana! Power! A Firme Tejana-Califas Reading.” Room 410, LA Convention Center, Meeting Room Level (Guadalupe García Montaño, Xochitl-Julisa Bermejo, Anel Flores, Emmy Pérez, Laurie Ann Guerrero). With a brown fist in the air, chanting “¡Sí Se Puede!” these mujeres bring la palabra. This is a reading by fierce Chicana poets stemming from Texas and Califas. They exist in this frontera breaking barriers and re-building bridges. They are proud to walk this poetic path. Their writings reflect their politics, beliefs, and lived experiences existing within el otro lado. They build bridges within all their communities: Chicana, LGBTQ, y más colores. ¡Que Viva Xicanisma! ¡Viva! (With many thanks to Verónica Reyes for organizing, preparing, and submitting this panel.)

Association of Writers and Writing Programs 2016, Los Angeles, CA

Friday, April 1st, 3:00pm to 4:15 pm

 

Photo Credit by Chelsea Juarez 2016 exbobcat2007@yahoo.com

Mi Amor: On Our 1 Month Wedding Anniversary

I.

I did not grow or grind the frijoles y tortillitas de maiz that built your strong bones, impenetrable panza and brown eyes lifetimes old:
only the water, the truth of letting pain wash away with the rain,
the coffee that tells secrets black and old,
the burning wood scent of your Mexican border once upon a time home.

From Piedras Negras where you first jumped in the river
to the refreshing waters of Yanaguana where you swam to me,
you are a sweet sour tough mesquite bean pod fallen from my abuela’s tree:
biting down, wooden limbs and feather soft green leaves dart out from my mouth and the wind blows in again.

Woman from Mexico, it’s not your fault you didn’t know
how two lifetimes ago I was a river and you were a hundred year old tree.
But the earth became too warm and I dwindled into a small stream, remembering your legs – and I drifted on

and on through another lifetime where I spotted you again passing by,
until I expired one last time, Mi Amor: I am a life for the third time
alive for the first, a raging ocean between my thighs and a moon reflection in my eyes.

By Anel I. Flores
For Erika A Casasola, my wife
inspired by Pablo Neruda’s Soneto V: Mañana

© Anel I. Flores 2015, All Rights Reserved

Isla Mujeres
Photo Credit © Jorge Sandoval 2015, All Rights Reserved